AASHTO Journal, 23 December 2014
Missouri voters toll pollsters they don’t like the idea of tolling Interstate 70 between St. Louis and Kansas City, the Kansas City Business Journal reported.
Gov. Jay Nixon directed the Missouri Department of Transportation on Dec. 9 to provide him with I-70 tolling options by Dec. 31, which would pay to upgrade that heavily used, worn highway and free up scarce transportation funds to improve other parts of the highway system.
It would also let the state take advantage of an exemption to federal law that generally prohibits adding tolls to existing parts of the interstate system. Missouri is one of just three states given permission to pursue such tolling for now.
But the Business Journal said a poll conducted Dec. 11-13 by a Kansas City research firm found that 59 percent of likely voters opposed tolling Missouri’s main east-west highway, while only 30 percent supported it and 11 percent had no opinion. That is consistent with traditional public opinion on toll roads, the story said.
The results could put more pressure on state officials and lawmakers over how to fund transportation improvements. Repairing I-70 is estimated to cost at least $2 billion and perhaps double that, the story said, but voters last summer rejected a proposed sales tax increase to pay for that as well as other transportation projects around the state.
I-70 in Missouri is also an important part of that cross-country route that runs across the middle of the United States and is heavily traveled by long-distance cargo trucks. Trucking groups routinely oppose adding tolls to existing roadways, and Missouri truckers have already been speaking out against tolling I-70.